Judges 20-21 Civil War

The perpetrators of the assault of the concubine are members of the tribe of Benjamin.  When the gathered tribes demand surrender of the criminals, the Benjamites refuse.  This brings on a destructive civil war in which the Benjamites are nearly wiped out, with heavy losses to the united tribes.  When only 600 men of Benjamin remain the other tribes relent, least one of the 12 families of Israel be destroyed.

Then the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has occurred among you? 13  Now therefore, deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel!” But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. 14  Instead, the children of Benjamin gathered together from their cities to Gibeah, to go to battle against the children of Israel.  20:12-15

18  Then the children of Israel arose and went up to the house of God to inquire of God. They said, “Which of us shall go up first to battle against the children of Benjamin?” The Lord said, “Judah first!”

23 Then the children of Israel went up and wept before the Lord until evening, and asked counsel of the Lord, saying, “Shall I again draw near for battle against the children of my brother Benjamin?” And the Lord said, “Go up against him.”

26  Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 27  So the children of Israel inquired of the Lord (the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28  and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

Here the Book of Judges ends.  Israel entered Palestine a strong, disciplined, and obedient people, held close to God by the example of committed leaders.

Judges shows both political and spiritual decline, as the moral and spiritual values on which Israel’s life was to be based are deserted along with that faith in God on which morality must ultimately rest.


Judges 20: AudioText

Judges 21

Now the men of Israel had sworn an oath at Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin as a wife.” 21:1

Then the whole congregation sent word to the children of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and announced peace to them. 14  So Benjamin came back at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh Gilead; and yet they had not found enough for them. 15  And the people grieved for Benjamin, because the Lord had made a void in the tribes of Israel. 21:13-15

Therefore they instructed the children of Benjamin, saying, “Go, lie in wait in the vineyards, 21:20

23  And the children of Benjamin did so; they took enough wives for their number from those who danced, whom they caught. Then they went and returned to their inheritance, and they rebuilt the cities and dwelt in them. 24  So the children of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family; they went out from there, every man to his inheritance. 25  In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

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